Which gear do the top Commons photographers use?

Canon's 5D Mark III

Canon’s 5D Mark III is still among the most popular cameras used by Featured Picture creators on Wikimedia Commons. Image by Decltype, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Today, I was curious to know which gear Commons photographers use. As Wikimedia Commons doesn’t provide any data on camera types (most other photography sites do), I decided to collect the data myself. Now, that being said, it might be obvious that I had to make some choices. Every day, many thousands of photos get uploaded to Commons and I couldn’t sift through all that data. So I decided to look at what kind of cameras the top contributors in the “Featured Pictures” category have at their hands. Here are the results:

Canon vs. Nikon

Commons Top 50 – Canon vs. Nikon

Commons Top 50 – Canon vs. Nikon

Although the photography community has recently been very unhappy with Canon’s new camera bodies (the 6D Mark II might serve as a prominent example), Canon cameras still dominate the field among the top 50 contributors of featured pictures on Wikimedia Commons. Almost half of them (48%) use Canon gear, compared to the 38% of Nikon shooters, and the 14% who use other gear. What I found most interesting is the fact that the trend towards mirrorless systems hasn’t reached Commons yet. That might have to do with the fact that the majority of top featured picture contributors use older gear. I personally think that’s perfectly fine, as the gear people use has only very minimal influence on the quality on the result. What’s much more important is how well you know your camera and to which extend you’re able to master the other factors that come into play when creating a great picture: composition, interesting subjects, etc. Among the Canon shooters, the EOS 5D series is by far the most popular, whereas Nikon shooters seem to like the D7xxx series and the D8xx series most.

Full-frame vs. crop sensor

Commons Top 50 – Full frame vs. crop sensor 

Commons Top 50 – Full frame vs. crop sensor 

When it comes to the question of full-frame vs. crop sensor, the full-frame bodies dominate. 56% of the top-50 contributors to featured pictures on Wikimedia Commons use full-frame bodies, whereas 42% use crop sensor cameras. That’s not surprising either. Results in the featured picture category on Commons have mainly been driven by technical aspects. With full-frame cameras producing lower levels of image noise and most often higher resolutions, the top contributors have adapted. If you’d like to be successful with your nomination, you most often encounter people who complain about noise, a lack of dynamic range, and small resolutions. To be honest, I’ve been so annoyed by the negative comments recently, that I upgraded from a 7D Mark II to a 5D Mark IV. What’s most disturbing about this trend is the fact that full-frame bodies come at a much higher price that most photographers in less affluent countries can’t afford. The result on Wikimedia Commons is that the majority of feature picture contributors come from countries like Germany, France, Austria, and the United States. Which makes me wonder whether there’s a way of either changing our attitude towards contributions from people who can’t afford the latest gear (think of the many people who live in India, Africa or other less affluent parts of the world) or whether there’s a way of equipping Wikipedia photography enthusiasts in those countries with better gear.

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